by Derick Ramos
Last month, the Manitoba High School Athletic Association capped off another basketball season with their AAAA Provincial tournament and now Basketball Manitoba has handed out their yearly awards. It was another successful year for Filipinos as four players and one coach were recognized for their successful seasons.
Denzel Soliven of the Sisler Spartans was named to the All Manitoban Men’s team along with Garden City Gopher, Byron Oduca. Tiara Licsi helped power the Spartans women’s team to an undefeated regular season and was selected to the All Manitoban Women’s team. Tiara’s coach, Mike Tan, was also named Coach of the Year for the women’s side.
However, it was another Sisler Spartan that led the charge for Filipinos at the Basketball Manitoba Awards banquet. Joseph Medrano was awarded with the prestigious AAAA Player of the Year in his final year of high school basketball. The combo guard helped lead the Spartans to another semi-final appearance at the Provincials.
Medrano first started playing basketball competitively like any young Filipino in the WAAY basketball league. He tasted early success in his first year of high school basketball helping the Sisler squad to the Provincial title. But it was the agony of defeat the following year in the first round to MBCI that helped him realize he had to get better.
“We lost so early, it kind of hurt,” Medrano said. “I had to do something to step my game up because I didn’t want this to continue to happen.”
In his Grade 11 year, Medrano made it a personal mission to become a better team player. He powered the Spartans to the Provincial finals against Garden City but lost in a heartbreaker. He represented Team Manitoba at the Canada Games and earned himself a silver medal. The experience he gained in such a high level tournament would pay off in his final year with Sisler.
After losing in the finals, Medrano was itching to play the rival Garden City Gophers on their home court and it came to fruition in the Provincial tournament. Medrano had a game for the ages dropping 37 points and 9 rebounds that included 9 of 16 from three point range. The Spartans defeated the Gophers 84-68 but later fell to St. Paul’s in the semi-finals.
Basketball is a team game and Medrano quickly credits his teammates and coach. He acknowledged All Manitoban Denzel Soliven, his friend since Grade 7, for helping grow as a teammate. His coach Scott Martin instilled a team first mentality that made him better all around.
“Everyone’s trying to be fancy with their dribbles, Coach Martin brings fundamentals in your game,” Medrano said about his coach for two years. “All of that is underrated.”
His parents, Jun and Josie Medrano, have been supportive since day one and will stand behind their son in whatever he decides to take on.
“We want him to get a good education,” Jun said. “If given the opportunity to play basketball in university, we will support him,”
Joseph Medrano will graduate high school this year and enjoy his summer before he takes on his next challenge, making the University of Manitoba Bisons basketball squad at the Canadian Interuniversity Sports level. If Medrano’s success continues into his post-secondary playing career, look for him spreading out defenses and draining it from downtown in the CIS.
Award photos supplied by Adam Wedlake (Basketball Manitoba) and Action Photo by Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal Archives